Tory’s Friday Ramblings (10/31/14)

Happy Halloween people! In honor of the day, this entire post shall be written in orange! Hehe.

On Work

Well, let’s see.  My cubicle/cell mate is leaving for greener pastures today so I’m very sad about that. I don’t like change in anything, but especially work. I rather like her and who knows how I’ll feel about the newbie, so I’ll be all out of sorts for the next week+ until the replacement arrives, and then we’ll have to see. We’re doing brownies this afternoon to wish her good luck.

I’m trying to be more professional, at least in how I dress. It sucks because I end up wearing dresses and I hate dresses with a passion because I don’t like being without pants (the whole fat thighs rubbing together thing). However, I’ve found a compromise with two of my dresses – they’re long enough to wear shorts under. Hehe. Plus, this morning, I came out of the bedroom from getting dressed and BOTH girls chimed in “I like your new dress, Mommy” without prompting, so that gave me a warm fuzzy feeling. Granted, it’s not a new dress, but I’ve only worn it twice I think.

On Children

They’re adorable. Pains in the butt, but adorable just the same. We had a Halloween party with the Cub Scouts on Monday and the kids all got to wear their costumes. Blondie’s a faery (she claims it’s a butterfly costume and we don’t bother correcting her – it’s got wings, it works). Pixie is oh-so-appropriately a cute witch. Shrimp is a ninja. Blondie and Pixie were unique at the Halloween party.

CS Party1

There were three Elsas. I only got two of them together.

CS Party ElsasI don’t have a picture of the ninja. He was a ninja, so I couldn’t find him. There were also like 20 ninjas. Picture to be seen next Friday.

On Writing

Ugh.

Conclusion

So, that’s pretty much it. Hope you have a fantastic Halloween. We’re going trick-or-treating tonight. Chime in and let me know what YOUR plans are.

Review – To Defy a Sheikh by Maisey Yates (@harlequinbooks, @maiseyyates, #review, #bookreview)

To Defy a SheikhTo Defy a Sheikh by Maisey Yates

My rating: 5 of 5 gargoyles

First up – it’s Maisey Yates. That, for me, is pretty much an auto-read issue. Add in the fact that it’s a sheikh story AND it’s a revenge story…revenge of the WOMAN…and I’m allll in.

I had uber-high expectations and Ms. Yates, as always, did not let me down. Samarah is a princess who’s lived her entire life in hiding because her entire family (save her and her mother) were slaughtered by rebels after Ferran had her father executed for sleeping with his mother (he actually witnessed it). She hates him for this and so, having worked her way into a situation where she can get close to him, and having been tutored in martial arts by a kindly man as she was in hiding (no, as it’s presented, I actually had no trouble believing in how/why she was trained to fight…it really works in the story), she tries to kill him. She of course fails and strangely Ferran offers her a choice: prison or become his sheikha. Weird, but again, it’s a Harlequin Presents book and Ms. Yates’ talents work to make it believable.

Ferran – very closed off man who carries a heavy weight on his shoulders for past deeds. In Samarah, he finds a way to at least partially alleviate some of his issues. It’s not so much a case of her marrying him will redeem him, more he’s as always trying to carry out his duty.

It’s very difficult to summarize this novel because there’s so much packed into the category length story.

I loved the setting. Ferran’s tale about how his ancestors came to rule the country, along with the tribes that still inhabit parts of the kingdom without being citizens of the kingdom were great. I loved watching Samarah grow beyond the angry, hate-filled woman she is at the beginning into realizing the choices she was making. These two really did help each other heal from the wounds inflicted both by themselves and by the world around them.

Without a doubt, I recommend this and hope everyone will give it a chance, even if you traditionally turn your nose up at the sheikh trope. This one’s worth your time!

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review – Saving the CEO by Jenny Holiday (@entangledpub, #bookreview, #review)

Saving the CEO (49th Floor, #1)Saving the CEO by Jenny Holiday

My rating: 4 of 5 gargoyles

An interesting story, a bit different from your typical boss/employee story, starting from the fact that technically, Cassie isn’t really his employee, more of an independent contractor.

Jack – Loved how he was so initially closed off, very routine-oriented, and enjoyed his working meals. Over the course of the book he loosened up a bit and learned to look beyond just the very surface of things. Granted, he wasn’t exactly Mr. Stellar Nice Guy when he jumps to a TOTALLY erroneous conclusion based off of a single text, buuuut I’ll cut the book some slack because of how that situation resolved itself.

Cassie – Such a sweetheart. I totally get her backstory and how difficult it is working and having a problematic relative who won’t actually help themselves despite desperately needing help of some sort. I like math girls and thankfully they’re showing up more often these days.

Story itself? Pretty good. I thought the big misunderstanding toward the end was a little done, but like I said, I’ll go with it. What I didn’t particularly care for was the CFO issue and how easily that was wrapped up. Just seemed a wee bit too convenient for my tastes, but hey. Okay. ‘Nuff said on that.

Sex scenes were pretty hot and I really liked how neither was shy about going after what they were desiring. No shrinking virgins here, yay!

So – great book from Entangled (duh).

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review – The Doctor’s Fake Fiancee by Victoria James (@romanceisbliss, @VicJames101, #review, #bookreview)

The Doctor's Fake Fiancee: a Red River novel (Entangled Bliss)The Doctor’s Fake Fiancee: a Red River novel by Victoria James

My rating: 4 of 5 gargoyles

This was a different book, at least in the reason the two initially meet up. I really liked the fact that Evan’s rescue of Grace at the beginning of the book had such an impact on both of their lives (saving Grace and destroying his surgeon career) and that Grace was so touched by his efforts to save her, she never stopped looking for him.

Evan I think had the most growing up to do though. He’s definitely more of a bachelor type for much of the book, despite having been almost married once before (and his ex was quite a piece of work), but it was delightful to see him continually pulled not just toward Grace, but toward Red River itself despite the fact that his gaze has always been on bigger and better things (as far as his career).

The resolution was nice as well, and I loved how these two finally fell in love and made it official. It wasn’t overly angsty in most places, which is always a plus.

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review – A Witch With No Name by Kim Harrison (@burningbunnies, #review, #bookreview)

The Witch With No Name (The Hollows, #13)The Witch With No Name by Kim Harrison

My rating: 5 of 5 gargoyles

Oh. My. God. I LOVE THIS SERIES SO MUCH!

And I’m very sad it’s now over. However…wow. What a freakin’ ride throughout the entire book. Certain things were obvious (Trent/Rach ending up together) and have been for several books now, but that knowledge made the journey ever so much better.

The only SLIGHT haggle I had (and I’m clearly not alone in this) was all the blasted time Rachel was agonizing over holding Trent back. I get why she’s like that, I even get behind some of it because she was (to her mind) making it hard for him to be the man he could be. But what she didn’t get (and why I can accept the angst story line) was because she hadn’t learned that the man she thought he could be wasn’t the man he WANTED to be any more. Trent. Grew. Up.

Ahh, Al. I will miss Al most of all of the characters. I was pulling for him and Rachel for a while before the Trent thing became obvious, buuut still. Feel bad for him and his backstory.

There are so many things I COULD say, but I won’t because I want every single person to have to read the book and glory in it for themselves!

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Product Review – Bluetooth Speaker (#bluetooth, #review)

Abdtech Ultra Portable Wireless Bluetooth 4.0 Speaker - Stereo Sound,Touch button,Works for Iphone, Ipad Mini, Ipad 4/3/2, Itouch, Blackberry, Nexus, LG ,Samsung and other Smart Phones and Mp3 Players , (Black)

I can’t say enough good things about this speaker. Yes, I got it in exchange for an honest review, but wow. I was absolutely blown away by the sound quality you get from it.

The size – about half the size of a normal loaf of bread and very light.

Durability – I’ve carried it around in my bag between work and home and it definitely doesn’t seem to get damaged being knocked around (not that I recommend banging it against the wall).

Sound Quality – this is where this baby shines! Is it aesthetically pleasing? Not particularly, but wow. You can crank this puppy up and go to town listening to your music. It’s made bath time a music-fest and in the morning at the office, I can turn it way up and jam away until other people show up.

Ease of Use – Syncing with your bluetooth device (Galaxy Note 3 in my case) was a breeze, but that I attribute at least in part to using my bluetooth device on a regular basis with OTHER devices. The instructions help though (caveat – see my thing about the instructions below).

This is a fantastic speaker and the monetary cost isn’t bad at all for what you get. I highly recommend this speaker!

One thing to be aware of: the instruction pamphlet that comes with it appears to be a direct translation from the original language…as in it seems to be on the level with plugging the instructions into Google Translate and going with what comes up. Clearly not written by English speakers. But it did give me some giggles. You can understand what you need to do, but some of the warnings don’t read ‘quite’ as seriously as they maybe should because of it. I will posting the instructions later today!

Check it out – this speaker is available on Amazon HERE.

Review – Cipher by Aileen Erin (#review, #bookreview)

Cipher (The Shadow Ravens, #1)Cipher by Aileen Erin

My rating: 4 of 5 gargoyles

The first thing I have to say is “wow” about this book. I couldn’t put it down pretty much from the moment I picked it up until I finished it. It didn’t take long at all to read either. You can definitely tell this is meant to be part of a series and part of what kept it from being 5 crowns is because it’s such a typical story arc (and didn’t strike any brand new ground for a new twist to the expected “Save the world from the evil corporation running it” trope), but that causes no problems for reading this as a stand-alone book.

Cipher – Ahh, strong, brainy, and a total computer geek. Loved that she was a mega hacker…who had issues with electricity.

Knight – Working for the bad guys as a deep cover agent – great story line and angst when it comes to deciding whether to break his cover or not.

The world building was fantastic. I’m still not very clear how we got from the world as it is to the world as it turns out in the Shadow Ravens series, but that’s not particularly crucial to understand. I really got behind the idea of the helixes identifying those who are a step above and in what categories. The double-helixes (like Knight) were a cool idea.

The romance between Cipher/Knight flowed nicely and definitely built on their original relationship as children. The one thing I have to say about that was when Knight was first examining his memories to refresh what he was looking for (he’s been looking for Cipher all along), he sees that she should be tall and doesn’t get why exactly she’s not as tall as the programs projected she would be. The reason this bugs me is they make such a deal about the memories, especially the far-back ones like retrieved about young Cipher, are unlikely to be particularly accurate, yet the author goes out of her way for Cipher to explain she’s short based on malnutrition. I failed to see why that mattered when they had an explanation already in place.

But, over all, this is a great book and having never read anything by Ms. Erin before, it was fabulous introduction. I can’t wait to read more in the Shadow Ravens series.

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Review also posted at Royal Reviews.

Tory’s Friday Ramblings (10/17/14)

I’m baaaack. Didja miss me?

Okay, I know, I know. No one misses me when I’m gone, but so what. I like to babble and where better than on the internet where there’s a chance millions might hear me. Heh. Not much of one, but hey, that works.

On Writing

I’ll just sum up with: ugh.

On Children

Oh, so much to say about this. Let’s see – I’ve gone on a campout with Shrimp. He learned to shoot a bow and while at least he didn’t shoot a tree like some of his camp-mates, he also only hit the target 3 of 5 times. He was disappointed, but even more so when he didn’t manage to touch the target at ALL when he took his shots at a BB target. At least he’ll get his BB Gun and Archery belt loops for the Scouts.

Shrimp

Then I took him to football last week. Let’s just say he doesn’t do well and leave it at that. But he made one interception and got awarded MVP. Hey, it’s I-9 sports and they’re trying to encourage him. So that’s something. Blondie was with me and I didn’t manage to watch much because I was busy chasing her down the entire time. This is the ONE time I managed to get her to stop and sit down:

JackieShe’s getting so big. And so mature in the face it seems.

And then there’s the demon spawn who’s decided to do SOMETHING each night that results in a time out and while in said time out pulls everything out of her toy box because she’s mad. Then her time-out gets extended until she gives in and puts everything back in the box. It takes a while. She is so STUBBORN. Hmm, that could be my fault. She’s a little me after all. Ugh. I mean, just look at this face. The face of a demon Pixie!

Pixie

Erm, okay, yeah, maybe she doesn’t look like a demon. But she is. She’s MY demon though and I love her to death.

On Music

Here’s one I haven’t talked about for a while, if ever. I have Amazon Prime and they allow you to stream millions of songs. I was flipping through the soundtracks listing and I came across the Epic Action and Adventure CDs.

EAAThat’s the first of 14. I LOVE instrumental music and classical music and this series of CDs is phenomenal. I can definitely chill out just listening to it and it feel so good sometimes. I swear I can actually feel muscles unknot when I listen. There’s also a couple of tracks on like CD 11 or 12 where I swear I can visualize an aerial battle with my gargoyles.

Pup-Ocalypse

Yeah. We still have the Puppy Rue. I’m amazed we still have the dog. I’ve nearly killed her (and me) on multiple occasions because she winds around my legs. Oy vey, it’s a nightmare with that wretched animal. AND she won’t go to the bathroom on a leash, which is now necessary because she can run like the wind and likes to dash across the huge front yard and into the street. She doesn’t like to be shut out in the back yard either. Argh.

There’s lots of spots on our carpet every day that require cleaning.

RueBut, like the Demon Pixie and Blondie, she’s cute so I allow her to survive.

Conclusion

Welp, that’s it. Stay tuned for many more book reviews. I’m enjoying that at least. 🙂

Have a great weekend!

Review – A Secret Colton Baby by Karen Whiddon (@harlequinbooks, #review, #bookreview)

A Secret Colton Baby (The Coltons: Return to Wyoming #1)A Secret Colton Baby by Karen Whiddon

My rating: 2 of 5 gargoyles

Wow – I don’t remember quite the last time I rolled my eyes as often as I did in this book. I’m surprised, because I generally like Harlequin’s romantic suspense (be it the “Romantic Suspense” or “Intrigue” imprint).

What I liked? I really liked Theo’s backstory, the career-ending injury which also ends one of his major loves altogether (riding horses, not just an end to competing, but no more riding at ALL) and how Ms. Whiddon shows his frustration with that situation. I liked the sense of family we get from the Coltons gathered around in Wyoming. The outbreak was kind of neat too, but just felt like that ended up being overkill along with somewhat unrealistically portrayed.

Now for what I didn’t like – a lot of things. 1) This book seriously needed some editing (a huge surprise for a Harlequin book, which generally have great editors). There were continuity problems (in the same scene at one point, twice the author says “the next morning…” which made me flip back to see if we’d jumped a day and I hadn’t realized it…we hadn’t; there was also a conversation saying the quarantine was going to go into effect on Friday, but the next morning (Wednesday) was when it ACTUALLY went into effect). 2) Talk about your melodrama with the baby. Oh. Dear. Lord. I’ve had three children. I’ve NEVER had hysterics over a mild rectal fever (101 is NOT that high, even for a very young baby, though it’s something to be a little concerned about and call a doctor for). But they were freaking out, giving the baby a lukewarm bath and just all a quiver. Yes, I get there’s an outbreak in town, but really?! 3) I really REALLY got sick of hearing about the food she was making for the ranch hands. I get that it was her job, but did we really need all the details, 3 times a day for at least half the book? 4) Back to the baby – I swear, they didn’t leave the baby alone for two seconds. There was all this upheaval about how Ellie was struggling to hold down a job (cooking) and take care of the baby (second job). Seriously people – newborns sleep a lot. Yeah, it’s a lot of work, but a lot of Ellie’s cooking involved stuff that baked for hours. She easily should have been able to handle both. Especially since she lived on SITE of her cooking job. Oy. 5) There was just waaaay too much going on in this book with all the interwoven plots. Full length novel, yeah, it might have worked. But not in a category-length book. At least not for me.

SPOILER upcoming – So, in the end, I really didn’t care for this book at all. I’ll check out more in the series because I want to see what happens with the outbreak (it’s not resolved) and see more about Gemma.

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Review posted on Tory Michaels’ Time Out.

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Review – To Love a King by Shona Husk (@sourcebookscasa, #bookreview, #review)

To Love a King (Court of Annwyn, #3)To Love a King by Shona Husk

My rating: 5 of 5 gargoyles

I’ve only read (completely) one other of the Annwyn books (the novella, and I didn’t like it because it left out the battle), but it clicked into place as I read through this book. I enjoy Ms. Husk’s world of the fairies and how the two worlds (ours and Annwyn) not only came into play but how they are still very much interconnected millennia later.

Felan – Gotta suck to be him. He’s got two weeks to get married and get a woman pregnant so he can ascend to the throne of Annwyn after his mother’s execution, because if there’s not a King and Queen, the worlds as we know them will destruct – not a good thing at all. That’s two weeks EARTH time, not even two weeks Annwyn time (time flows differently/much slower there). Luckily, he knows a human who might just fit the bill, but he sort of broke up with her 7 years ago (earth time). It’s complicated, but makes sense in the flow of the story. And, as he tries to convince Jacqueline to fall in love with him, he’s got to dodge the murder attempts being thrown at him by the competitor for his throne.

Jacqueline – She went through the hardest thing I can imagine, losing a baby, and has never fully recovered either from the loss of it or the relationship she shared with Felan. Add in she was considered crazy because she was seeing things others didn’t (fairy folk, who normal people can’t see without help from the fairy themselves), and she isn’t particularly thrilled when Felan shows up in her life again.

The road these two took to end up back together was definitely bumpy. Kudos to Jacqueline for not just falling in bed with Felan again and immediately/easily forgiving him for what he’d done. Kudos to Felan for working past what he believed Jacqueline had done and sticking to his responsibilities as Crown Prince (keeping the tears between this world and Annwyn from ripping further open) while resurrecting his relationship with the human he’d never forgotten.

I love the world of Annwyn and how the fairies came to be. There was plenty of explanation into what would happen if there wasn’t a King and Queen, along with why it was so important. I loved the very inhumanity of most of the fairies – they’re definitely not just cute little Tinkerbells.

Definitely a great read. Check it out.

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Review posted on Tory Michaels’ Time Out.

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